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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains from Fort Brady, Michigan in the National Museum of Natural History

Region: Northeast
Associated Cultures: Chippewa, Ojibwa

In compliance with the National Museum of the American Indian Act of 1989, 20 U.S.C. Section 80q (P.L. 101-185) as amended in 1996 (P.L. 104-278), this report provides an inventory and assessment of the human remains from Fort Brady, Michigan, in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution (SI). Assessment of the cultural affiliation and documentation of human remains were initiated in response to a October 1, 1999, request from Paula Parker and Wanda Perron of the Bay Mills Indian Community for the repatriation of human remains from the original location of a military post at Fort Brady (1822-1893).

This report documents the remains of eight individuals in eight catalog numbers in the collections at the NMNH. All human remains evaluated for affiliation in this report are from individuals who are likely to have died before 1833 and were collected from one or two historic cemeteries by U.S. Army surgeons in 1868 and 1873.

The human remains and funerary objects listed in this report were originally sent to the Army Medical Museum in 1868 and 1873 and were identified as Chippewa. They were later transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1898 and 1904. The remains of seven individuals were obtained from a Chippewa cemetery at Fort Brady near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, by Army Surgeon M. K. Taylor in 1868. In 1873, Army Surgeon J. King sent the skeletal remains of one individual that he identified as Chippewa which had been recovered from a cemetery during canal construction at or near Fort Brady.

No funerary objects from the cemeteries at Fort Brady are present at the Smithsonian. Paula Parker and Wanda Perron of the Bay Mills Indian Community report that the Chippewa ancestors of the Bay Mills Indian Community inhabited the rapid area near Fort Brady from the beginning of recorded time until they were removed by the U.S. Army in 1855 to allow construction of the lock and canal system through the rapids of the St. Mary's River. They report that relatives of members of the Bay Mills Indian Community were buried in the cemetery at the rapids in 1820.

The preponderance of evidence indicates that all eight remains are culturally affiliated with the Chippewa, and it was recommended that the remains be offered for repatriation to both the Bay Mills Indian Community and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. These tribes are likely to have the closest affiliation to the remains buried at the Fort Brady cemetery, but because there are other Chippewa federally recognized tribes in the area that may be concerned about the burials at Fort Brady, all federally recognized Chippewa tribes were notified of the affiliation recommendations for the remains.

Repatriation Update
The remains from Fort Brady, Michigan were repatriated jointly to representatives of the Bay Mills Indian Community and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians on October 23, 2002.

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